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Can my colleague discuss my flexible working contract with my manager?

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throughtheblue
throughtheblue Posts: 265 Forumite
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I have a colleague who is in the process of applying for flexible working on health grounds. Obviously that is their prerogative to advocate for their interests, but they've said to me, that if their request is not accepted they will sight how adjustments had been made for me.

If the person believes they are being unfairly treated, then that might serve as an example, but I was a bit taken back as their attitude was 'if they have it then so should I'. My understanding was grounds were made on an individual basis, and I'd prefer not to have my situation discussed in-depth, or used as a benchmark. 

I'm aware I may have little control over the situation, but I'm more interested if there is anything I need to be doing at this point? Thanks.
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  • KiKi
    KiKi Posts: 5,377 Forumite
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    It depends on the context of the question and answer.  I don't think it's okay, for example, for your manager to explain why you have made your flex working request if that exposes personal information relating to you.  So discussing any care arrangements you have, for example, wouldn't be alright as that's your private business and would likely breach GDPR.

    If your colleague does raise that you have flex working and they want the same, the ideal scenario (like you said) is that your manager keeps the two requests entirely separate and doesn't relate the two in terms of sharing any information.  However, I don't think it's unreasonable if they were to say, for eg, "X's working arrangements are for personal reasons which don't apply to you" or "X has this arrangement, and I can't give you the same arrangement as that will be detrimental to the business".  With that latter example, it's certainly reasonable for your manager to cite your arrangements as a reason to say no to your colleague (ie, refuse a specific request for flex working before because it means the office isn't covered at that time, and that's the reason why).

    Nothing you should be doing at all - this is a conversation for your colleague and boss, and I would take an eminently practical, common sense approach to that without getting too anxious about who is allowed to say what.  
    ' <-- See that? It's called an apostrophe. It does not mean "hey, look out, here comes an S".
  • throughtheblue
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    KiKi said:
    It depends on the context of the question and answer.  I don't think it's okay, for example, for your manager to explain why you have made your flex working request if that exposes personal information relating to you.  So discussing any care arrangements you have, for example, wouldn't be alright as that's your private business and would likely breach GDPR.

    If your colleague does raise that you have flex working and they want the same, the ideal scenario (like you said) is that your manager keeps the two requests entirely separate and doesn't relate the two in terms of sharing any information.  However, I don't think it's unreasonable if they were to say, for eg, "X's working arrangements are for personal reasons which don't apply to you" or "X has this arrangement, and I can't give you the same arrangement as that will be detrimental to the business".  With that latter example, it's certainly reasonable for your manager to cite your arrangements as a reason to say no to your colleague (ie, refuse a specific request for flex working before because it means the office isn't covered at that time, and that's the reason why).

    Nothing you should be doing at all - this is a conversation for your colleague and boss, and I would take an eminently practical, common sense approach to that without getting too anxious about who is allowed to say what.  

    Thanks for your thoughts, they are very useful.

    I've had flexible working in other posts, and had no problem or concern about other people's arrangement. However, I'm one of the few people in a big team that has flexible working, whilst being aware other people would like the same arrangement. This sometimes causes a concern that it would be revoked if an influx of requests came through, but I've done this for 24 months now, and my manager stopped reviewing my arrangement after the first 6 months, so I'd prefer not to be dragged into anything.

    Thanks again.
  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,432 Forumite
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    Your colleague can of course discuss things that are common knowledge - throughtheblue works from home/doesn't get in until 11 and it works for them why can't it work for me?  However, your manager should not reveal anything confidential as part of the discussion (eg medical diagnosis, family situation).
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • housebuyer143
    housebuyer143 Posts: 3,541 Forumite
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    HR will normally refuse to discuss someone else situation and just say that's not relevant or each case is different. They are not allowed to discuss your situation in depth. 

    Your colleague can of course raise your case as a reason to grant theirs, but yours shouldn't be discussed at all from your employer.
  • throughtheblue
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    Your colleague can of course discuss things that are common knowledge - throughtheblue works from home/doesn't get in until 11 and it works for them why can't it work for me?  However, your manager should not reveal anything confidential as part of the discussion (eg medical diagnosis, family situation).

    I understand. My concern is that because I have a flexible working arrangement, they believe they are automatically entitled to it, whilst I presume there are other factors to be considered.

  • NCC1701-A
    NCC1701-A Posts: 364 Forumite
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    It could be quite the contrary.  Having a colleague on flexible attendance might actually be a reason to refuse a new requester flexible working because then there would be less cover for 'normal' hours of business operations.
  • vacheron
    vacheron Posts: 1,644 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2023 at 7:56PM
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    I think it will be a very common scenario where person X asks for something on the basis that person Y appears to be entitled to it. There may be additional considerations which your colleague may not be aware of, but conversely, they may also have considerations which "you" are unaware of.

    I think it is fair for your employer to state that there are specific circumstances in your case should they reject your colleagues request, but not to go into any further detail. 
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  • throughtheblue
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    vacheron said:
    I think it will be a very common scenario where person X asks for something on the basis that person Y appears to be entitled to it. There may be additional considerations which your colleague may not be aware of, but conversely, they may also have considerations which "you" are unaware of.

    I think it is fair for your employer to state that there are specific circumstances in your case should they reject your colleagues request, but not to go into any further detail. 

    I agree. I hope people can advocate for their own interests, and I'm sure people's desires for flexible working have some crossovers as well as differences.
    I'd prefer people to discuss these things with the manager, and not make presumptions about my arrangement, but I see how my arrangement might be seen as a precedent for someone else.
  • KiKi
    KiKi Posts: 5,377 Forumite
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    edited 25 July 2023 at 9:31PM
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    I understand. My concern is that because I have a flexible working arrangement, they believe they are automatically entitled to it, whilst I presume there are other factors to be considered.


    I'd prefer people to discuss these things with the manager, and not make presumptions about my arrangement, but I see how my arrangement might be seen as a precedent for someone else.
    So what if your colleague believes they are automatically entitled to it?  Why is that a concern for you?  That's not a conversation you'll be having with them, and not a decision you need to make.  If they believe that, then the manager has the conversation and makes the decision.  Equally, your colleague is absolutely entitled to make presumptions, but they are ones that they'll raise with your manager and for your manager to deal with.

    By all means, be concerned that none of your personal information is shared; I get that.  But being concerned about whether someone else thinks they are entitled to flexible working isn't something to be worried about as it's not anything you're going to have to deal with - let the manager deal with it; that's their job!
    ' <-- See that? It's called an apostrophe. It does not mean "hey, look out, here comes an S".
  • throughtheblue
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    KiKi said:

    I understand. My concern is that because I have a flexible working arrangement, they believe they are automatically entitled to it, whilst I presume there are other factors to be considered.


    I'd prefer people to discuss these things with the manager, and not make presumptions about my arrangement, but I see how my arrangement might be seen as a precedent for someone else.
    So what if your colleague believes they are automatically entitled to it?  Why is that a concern for you?  That's not a conversation you'll be having with them, and not a decision you need to make.  If they believe that, then the manager has the conversation and makes the decision.  Equally, your colleague is absolutely entitled to make presumptions, but they are ones that they'll raise with your manager and for your manager to deal with.

    By all means, be concerned that none of your personal information is shared; I get that.  But being concerned about whether someone else thinks they are entitled to flexible working isn't something to be worried about as it's not anything you're going to have to deal with - let the manager deal with it; that's their job!

    The concern for me is that I have my colleague saying to me directly, that if the manager doesn't approve their flexible working, then they will use my flexible working arrangement as justification for their case. It's not actually the enquiry or the presumption that is concerning me, providing that is private and discussed with the manager. What I feel uncomfortable about is my colleague using my arrangement as justification for why they should have it, without knowing the context for my arrangement. Whether intentional, I feel emotionally drawn into something which doesn't need to concern me at this stage, and unsure if my colleague is trying to indirectly communicate that I have preferential treatment.
    Perhaps I should express that I'd prefer to keep their intentions private at this point? 
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